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The carrying and wearing of lifejackets

Carrying and wearing of lifejackets is an important safety issue, particularly for small boats. Nationally the rules around this issue vary substantially from region to region. This can create confusion for boat owners that undertake boating activities across regions, e.g. travelling from Tauranga to Auckland you cross three different regions, each with a different version of the lifejacket rule.

We are proposing to amend the current Bay of Plenty rules about carrying and wearing lifejackets to better align with our neighbouring regions and to support skippers in ensuring that everyone wears a lifejacket, without eroding the skippers’ ultimate responsibility for the safety of their vessel and crew.

We are proposing rules similar to those of the Auckland region. The proposed rules will mean that:

  • You will still have to carry a properly fitting, readily accessible lifejacket for every person on board (you are required to do this under the existing Bylaw). 
  • You will still have to wear a lifejacket during times of heightened risk, including when you are crossing a bar (you are required to do this under the existing Bylaw). 
  • If you are making way (i.e. under propulsion) and in a vessel 6 m and under, you will be required to wear your lifejacket, unless the skipper has assessed the risk and specifically authorises that it is not required to wear one (this is new).

There are a number of exceptions to the rules, and these have not changed.

The purpose of the proposed change is to ensure greater maritime safety by moving toward a culture where lifejackets are worn automatically, but enabling the skipper to make decisions about wearing lifejackets when the risk is low.

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